Blue Ridge 1

I gassed up at Meadows of Dan eighty miles shy of Roanoke, doing my best to beat the sunset, the Honda thrumming beneath me as it had for four days past. It was late in Father’s Day and I was making for home, marking each curve with the music the engine made. More familiar each change in acceleration, the tone it took to climbing, the downhill song, punctuated by the gearbox. Ache spread roots deep across the span of my shoulders, my accelerator wrist numb for a hundred miles. I didn’t want to be on the parkway after dark, deer were light stepping in each field, perked in advance to my engine noise.

There were no cars, I moved singular through the landscape, rolling green and smooth through each corner, and green, bearing down, felt the wobble of my tires on the road in a numberless arc. An old man on a sportbike told me at Meadows of Dan not to worry about Rangers and to get it till I got to 460; I wound the road fifteen miles over the limit. There were my arms attached to me and my legs and the bike on which I perched but I could not determine the relationship between them all.

Past Sparta, past Galax, hunting for what Mary and I had reckoned to be a long haired, long horn yak we’d seen a year ago heading south after her dad’s funeral. I spent most of northern North Carolina wanting nothing more than to get a picture of that animal for her, but I must have run it too fast and passed it's shaggy blur. Bald knobs, vast golden lump fields, the road that is its own country. This was what I had wanted: no words, no music of my own making and lonely, on a high empty road.